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Cash Prizes Doubled for Oberlin's 2016 Cooper Competition July 16-22

February 29, 2016

Erich Burnett

A young pianist takes the stage
Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni

The Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition returns to Oberlin College and Conservatory for its seventh year in July—and it now awards the highest-valued first prize of any competition for its age group.

Beginning this year, the piano competition’s cash prize package will be doubled to $40,000, including a $20,000 first prize.

The 2016 Cooper Competition begins Saturday, July 16, with five days of public performances presented by 25 to 35 pianists on the beautiful Oberlin campus. The excitement culminates on Friday, July 22, as three finalists perform complete concertos with the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall in Cleveland, under the direction of Jahja Ling. The winner takes home the $20,000 first prize, with $10,000 and $5,000 awarded for second and third place, respectively. Each finalist’s prize package also includes a full four-year tuition scholarship to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Also new for 2016: A travel-assistance fund will be available to competition participants on a case-by-case basis.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Cleveland Orchestra once again as we celebrate the best young piano talent in the world,” says Oberlin Professor of Piano Robert Shannon, director and jury chair of the 2016 Cooper Competition. “Interest from students around the world is already high, and this should be an even more fabulous event than ever before.”

In addition to the top prizes, the competition awards $1,500 to each of the fourth- through sixth-place winners, and also grants an Audience Prize of $500. These are presented at the conclusion of the Recital Final Round in Oberlin on Wednesday, July 20. An Honors Concert, featuring pianists who delivered the most moving performances during the week, will be held at Oberlin Thursday, July 21.

The 2016 jury is a panel of esteemed pianists consisting of Oberlin Conservatory faculty and acclaimed performer-pedagogues from throughout the world. Along with Oberlin professors Alvin Chow, Angela Cheng, Monique Duphil, Robert Shannon, Peter Takács, and Matti Raekallio, the international jury includes Dag Achatz, Swedish soloist, recording artist, and composer; Uzbekistani-born American pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch, gold medalist of the 11th Van Cliburn Competition; Lisa Nakamichi, founding artistic director of the Aloha International Piano Festival; and Wu Ying, professor and department head at the Central Conservatory of Music in China.

Once again, the competition’s Recital Finals at Oberlin and Concerto Finals at Severance Hall will be broadcast live by Cleveland’s classical station, WCLV 104.9 FM.

For the first time, the 2016 Cooper Competition Finals will be part of the Cleveland Orchestra’s popular Summers@Severance series, created to expand the orchestra’s summertime offerings and showcase the ensemble as an integral part of its home neighborhood. As part of the series, the Concerto Finals will feature pre- and post-concert receptions in beautiful University Circle. Subscriptions and more information can be found at the Severance Hall website.

“Since its founding, the Cooper Competition has been synonymous with outstanding performances from the world’s most talented young musicians,” says Dean of the Oberlin Conservatory Andrea Kalyn. “We are proud to reward their artistry with one of the most lucrative prize packages of any international youth competition anywhere, and we are forever grateful to Thomas and Evon Cooper for their enthusiastic support every step of the way.”

Applications for the 2016 competition must be submitted by April 15. For a complete competition schedule, application, and more information, please visit the official Cooper Competition website.

About the Cooper Competition

Founded in 2010, the Thomas and Evon Cooper Competition is dedicated to presenting an important international competitive opportunity to outstanding young musicians. It is made possible through the generosity of Thomas Cooper, a 1978 graduate of Oberlin College, and his wife, pianist Evon Cooper. The Cooper Competition alternates annually between piano and violin and is open to participants between the ages of 13 and 18. Past winners include George Li and Leonardo Colafelice, both of whom have cultivated outstanding young performance careers.

About Oberlin and the Cleveland Orchestra

The relationship between Oberlin College and the Cleveland Orchestra dates back nearly a century, beginning with the philanthropy of John Long Severance, an 1885 Oberlin graduate and flutist who founded the Musical Arts Association, under which the Cleveland Orchestra was established in 1918. The Cleveland Orchestra first performed in Oberlin in 1919, six months after its founding. The group has returned to Oberlin each season since, giving more than 200 performances on campus to date.

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